My hypertension medicines are causing side effects. What to do?

Q. How to manage the side-effects of hypertensive drugs?

Answered by
Dr. Muhammad Majid Hanif
and medically reviewed by Dr. K Shobana
This is a premium question & answer published on Jan 28, 2018 and last reviewed on: Jun 10, 2024

Hello doctor,

I have hypertension and also suffer from asthma. I have been prescribed ARBs. However, I have experienced respiratory side effects (dyspnea) that lead me to discontinue the medication. The side effects are class effect and all drugs from this class will have these effects. I cannot use ACE Inhibitors or ARBs or beta blockers due to asthma. I can only use CCBs and/or diuretics. Regarding CCBs, I have tried Amlodipine but felt much fatigue, then Nifedipine XL that caused intolerable headaches. Then I have been suggested to use Felodipine but it is not available in my country. Finally, I have been prescribed Dilzetem 90 mg BID and low dose Hydrochlorothiazide (12.5 mg). However, I can no longer take HCTZ because it causes me severe sciatica. In my country, the medication Clortalidone is not available. What should I take instead of HCTZ? The Diltiazem alone cannot help me. My current blood pressure shows 150/95 mmHg and pulse rate 87 beats per minute. Should the dose of Diltiazem be adjusted? Or perhaps another medication should be added? Thank you.



Welcome to

I have reviewed your health query and can understand your worries about hypertension and appropriate medications. Although thorough physical evaluation is mandatory here, I would assist you based on the details provided here. I would suggest you start afresh with lifestyle changes and medications together. You need to get your BMI within normal limits. Every 10 pounds you lose will lower your blood pressure by 5 mmHg. Meanwhile, you need to consult a dietitian to fix your diet according to the healthy lifestyle. You need to take your weight and lipids (cholesterol) within limits via lifestyle changes. I am sure you can do this but it needs a lot of serious efforts. All medications would then depend on your efforts. If you take control of your weight and cholesterol, you would not need much of medications to lower your blood pressure. Yes, if needed your physician can alter the dosage of Diltiazem according to it until you get your blood pressure within normal limits. Hope it helps. Thank you.

Hello doctor,

Thanks for your response. I suffer from depression, anxiety, and insomnia. I am currently taking medication for mental illness. Two of them are known to increase body weight through increasing appetite and slowing metabolism. However, I know I need to lose weight urgently and I am willing to visit a dietician and make all the necessary efforts. Regarding the medication, I would like to ask you specifically about Diltiazem. I am currently taking 90 mg twice a day, and I think it is already a high dose. Unfortunately, since I stopped hydrochlorothiazide my blood pressure went higher again. What should I do regarding the medication? Should I take more doses of Diltiazem? What risks would I face in case I take 120 mg twice daily? Thank you.



Welcome back to

Yes, it would be really helpful for you to consult a dietician as you need to work on this issue in depth and get a prescription renewal. Diltiazem 90 mg twice is high but not the highest limit you may take in a day. You may consult your treating physician for proper guidance and to see how can they titrate the dose according to your needs. It can safely be increased in many patients. Many patients take more than 120 dosages per day and there is no issue (480 to 540 mg per day is mostly the limit in hypertension). Your doctor may titrate it over a couple of weeks and see how it works. But, again this all depends on your physician's evaluation. Hope this helps. Thank you.

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